Our Executive Director

Rabbi Aaron Lerner

Executive Director

rabbiaaron@uclahillel.org

Rabbi Aaron Lerner is passionate about creating inclusive and empowered Jewish community. He believes that Jewish tradition enriches and informs every aspect of life, and particularly enjoys encouraging college students to apply Jewish values as they grapple with life’s major questions during their most formative years.

During his time at Hillel at UCLA, Rabbi Aaron Lerner has helped expand Hillel’s leadership training program to include approximately 150 student leaders who reach nearly 1,800 Jewish students every year at UCLA. He has also played a key role in Israel advocacy and education on campus and in the national arena.

A Wexner Graduate Fellow, Aaron received ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah with an emphasis in education. Prior to entering the world of education, Aaron worked for more than a decade in commercial real estate finance after graduating from USC’s Marshall School of Business.

Our Student Life Team

Rabbi Alex Kress

Director of Student Life, RSJE

rabbialex@uclahillel.org

Ordained in 2017 from HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, Rabbi Alex Kress is passionate about innovating Jewish practice and making Judaism fun and meaningful. After serving two years at a synagogue on Long Island, Rabbi Kress and his family have returned to LA to join the Bruin family. No matter your background, Rabbi Kress looks forward to exploring Judaism, repairing the world, and dreaming what the future can be together. 

Rabbi Aryeh and Sharona Kaplan

OU Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus

rabbiaryeh@uclahillel.org

sharona@uclahillel.org 

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan and Sharona Kaplan, MSW are in their second decade as the JLIC couple at UCLA. Originally from Teaneck, NJ, the Kaplans – who met in High School - now live in Westwood with their six young children.  Bringing with them expansive experience in informal Jewish education, programming, community building and engagement, the Kaplans’ warmth, sincerity and passion attracts and inspires students and community members alike. The Kaplans are sought after mentors, teaching brides and grooms before their weddings, escorting students through an array of defining life cycle events and offering advice and personal counsel to students.

Molly Auerbach

Springboard Innovation Fellow

molly@uclahillel.org

Molly is originally from Denver, CO and just graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Mathematics and a minor in Hebrew. As much as she loves math, she is much more passionate about being active in the Jewish community and welcoming people in, which makes her SO excited for her new role as the Springboard Innovation Fellow at UCLA. She has an extreme love for the land of Israel and even spent a semester studying there as a part of the Nachshon Project. Molly has spent the last 12 summers at Camp Ramah in California and could not be more excited to be moving out west. Get in touch with Molly if you want to help reimagine Jewish life on campus or just to hear her contagious laugh.

Maili Lampe

Springboard Social Justice Fellow

maili@uclahillel.org

Maili graduated from Syracuse University as a dual Political Science and Religion major. Born and raised in sunny San Diego, she is thrilled to be back in Southern California to be close to her family and the beach. Maili is serving as the Springboard Social Justice Fellow and can’t wait to talk social activism with everyone! She loves to explore new places and will debate where to get the best tacos with anyone and everyone. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat about social activism or getting involved in the community!

Our Chief Operating Officer

David Berman

Chief Operating Officer

(310) 208-3081 x218

david@uclahillel.org

A native of Columbus, Ohio, David Berman has over a decade of experience in the non-profit sector in Los Angeles, working for organizations including the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, The Guardians of the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging, and BREATHE California of Los Angeles County. He recently spent a few years in Binghamton, New York, where he served as Assistant Director of Hillel at Binghamton and worked in a strategic planning role for the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science at Binghamton University. David received his Bachelor's Degree from Indiana University in Bloomington and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.

Our Development Team

Rachael Petru

Director of Philanthropic Partnerships

(310) 208-3081 x213

rachael@uclahillel.org

Hailing from the Midwest, Rachael came to Los Angeles after receiving a BA in General Studies, Certificate in Jewish Studies and a Minor in Hebrew from Indiana University. While participating in the first Birthright Israel trip, Rachael became hooked on working to support the state of Israel and the Jewish community. Rachael went on to spend eight years as a major gifts fundraiser for Hadassah during which time she also earned a Certificate in Public Relations for Non Profits from UCLA Extension. Rachael is an alumna of the Bend the Arc Jeremiah Fellowship as well as a member of the “talent” pool of the Professional Leaders Project. 

Gisele Haykin

Director of Community Philanthropy

(310) 208-3081 x214

gisele@uclahillel.org

A third generation Los Angeleno, Gisele was born, raised, and educated in Los Angeles. After earning her undergraduate degree at Occidental College in art and religious studies, Gisele went on to earn her MBA in Nonprofit Management at American Jewish University. Thereafter, Gisele served as the Director of Development at Valley Beth Shalom Day School and most recently, she worked with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Women’s Philanthropy Division. Growing up, Gisele was fortunate to attend Camp Alonim, A.J. Heschel Day School, de Toledo High School, and Brandeis Collegiate Institute. She adores spending time with her sweet dog Frankie!

Gregory Santiago

Donor Services Associate

greg@uclahillel.org

Greg was born and raised in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles and attended UCLA from 2010-2014. He first joined the Hillel team in 2010 as a receptionist through Work-Study, and since then has taken on many roles here at Hillel. His current role is on the Development Team as the Donor Services Associate. Along with working at Hillel, Gregory's true passion is Art, and is currently working and going to school. 

Carrie Cook

Donor Services Associate

(310) 208-3081 x222

carrie@uclahillel.org

Carrie was born and raised on a beautiful dairy farm in Southeastern Wisconsin. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, she moved to Los Angeles to “see the world” and at first sight of the ocean, decided to stay. For ten years, Carrie worked as a Donation Coordinator for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day. She received a Master’s in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California, and in her free time, enjoys writing fiction and spending time with her husband and two children. She joined the Hillel team in January 2020 and is grateful to be a part of such a vibrant community.

Our Director Emeritus

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller

Director Emeritus

(310) 208-3081 x103

rabbichaim@uclahillel.org

CHAIM SEIDLER-FELLER was Executive Director of the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA for a fantastic 40 years.

He is currently our Director Emeritus and is also the director of the Hartman Fellowship for Campus Professionals. He was ordained in 1971 at Yeshiva University where he completed a Masters in Rabbinic Literature. Chaim is a lecturer in the Departments of Sociology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA and in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He is also a faculty member of the Shalom Hartman Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and of the Wexner Heritage Foundation. He was a founding member of Americans for Peace Now. Chaim was a rabbinic consultant to Barbra Streisand during the making of the film Yentl.

Our Artistic Director

Perla Karney

The Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts &

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller Institute for Jewish Learning

(310) 208-3081 x108

perla@uclahillel.org

Perla has been the artistic director of the Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at UCLA Hillel for the past fourteen years. During this time, she has transformed the center into a vibrant, popular destination for students and the Jewish community seeking art and culture. In addition to her position at the Dortort Center, Perla has been appointed Director of the Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller Institute for Jewish Learning. Perla presents nine art exhibits every year in over two thousand square feet of gallery space at Hillel. She also mentors student artists, showcases emerging artists, introduces documentaries, book authors, and produces staged reading of original plays. In addition, Perla coordinates the RSCF Institute for Jewish Learning lecture series.

 

Perla was born and raised in Bavaria, Germany. She left her home town of Munich as a teenager and was educated in the United States, Canada, Switzerland and Paris. She returned permanently to the United States for her college education (BA from UCLA, graduate work in English Lit. at Loyola Marymount University). Before taking the position as artistic director at Hillel at UCLA Perla was a successful theater producer in Los Angeles bringing such plays as "Woman in Mind" with Helen Mirren to the stage as well as many other West Coast premieres. In addition to being the past vice president of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Perla sits on the board of the UCLA Fowler Museum Arts Council, and is a founding member of Temple of the Arts. She was recently elected to the board of the award-winning Los Angeles based theater company "Rogue Machine"

Our Facilities Team

Adrian Villegas

Facilities Associate

(310) 208-3081 x103

adrian@uclahillel.org

Adrian was born and raised in Inglewood. Following his work at the City of Inglewood in the Department of Public Works, he came to Hillel in 2011 and is now the Facilities Associate. Adrian is in charge of keeping the building well maintained, comfortable and safe for all who visit. Away from work, he spends time with his wife of ten years, Tami, and their children - son Christian (12) and daughter Adrian (10) - enjoying the park, beaches, the movies and other family fun.